Springer is propelling the Astros from the leadoff spot

Center fielder George Springer has been a rock star for the Houston Astros so far throughout 2017. He’s provided plenty of pop from the leadoff spot and is anchoring centerfield with aplomb.

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George Springer is thriving as a leadoff hitter. (Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports – Climbing Tal’s Hill)

The fact that Springer has power has never been doubted, he’s consistently posted an ISO over .180 since he’s broken into the big leagues in 2014; but there seems to be no end in sight for his present power surge. Currently,  the 27-year old has already clubbed 21 home runs and 13 doubles — his career high for dingers and two baggers is 29. His power surge has been a major reason that he’s already been worth 2.5 wins in only 312 plate appearances and 69 games played.

Of Springer’s 21 home runs this season, 8 of them have been leadoff dingers. For Houston’s pitching staff, it has to be relaxing knowing that there is a really good chance they’ll be starting the game with at least a 1-0 lead.

Springer is currently hitting .276/.348/.548 this season, despite the fact that his walk rate is currently at the lowest it has ever been in his young career; currently the 27-year old is walking in 8.3 percent of his PAs — his career average is 11%. What’s more puzzling is that his walk rate is falling at the same time he’s swinging at less pitches outside of the strike zone than he has at any other point in the big leagues. The center fielder is only swinging at 23.3% of pitches outside of the zone (according to Pitch/FX), about one percentage point lower than his career average. His drop in swinging at pitches outside of the zone is likely because he’s trying to draw more walks and get on base more as the lead off man…but his walk rate is really low this season.

For the Astros, despite his low walk rate, Springer’s move to the top of the order has been a major boon for a team that already has a long line-up. His success is a large part of the reason that Houston is the best team in baseball right now.

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